Human sound systems are invariably phone- mically coded. Furthermore, phoneme invento- ries follow very particular tendancies. To ex- plain these phenomena, there existed so far three kinds of approaches : Chomskyan”/cognitive innatism, morpho-perceptual innatism and the more recent approach of language as a com- plex cultural system which adapts under the pres- sure of e�cient communication”. The two first approaches are clearly not satisfying, while the third, even if much more convincing, makes a lot of speculative assumptions and did not really bring answers to the question of phonemic cod- ing. We propose here a new hypothesis based on a low-level model of sensory-motor interac- tions. We show that certain very simple and non language-specific neural devices allow a popula- tion of agents to build signalling systems without any functional pressure. Moreover, these systems are phonemically coded. Using a realistic vowel articulatory synthesizer, we show that the inven- tories of vowels have striking similarities with hu- man vowel systems.